Monday, February 12, 2018


Mark 9:2-9
February 11, 2018

Today is the birthday of this congregation.
Well, it’s tomorrow, but today is close enough.
From our little beginnings in the Mackenson’s basement
at 55 west Lincoln, we’ve come through 70 years
of buildings, organs, worships, friendships, disagreements,
meetings, and pot lucks to where we are today:
a church with an interesting past and a promising future.

And as I was looking through some of the notes,
council minutes, and letters that the founders
of this church kept 70 years ago, one thing is very obvious:
these people did not know what they were doing.

Now I don’t mean that in a bad way
Or like they were worse than any number of people
who have done it before or after them.
I mean just in the way that none of them 
had any experience in it.
These were business people and homemakers.
The church that they all came from had
already been around for 60 years,
The pastor they got was fresh out of seminary,
and even with all the experience in the world,
starting a new church is never a sure thing.

It’s obvious from the notes that they were feeling
their way around in the dark in a lot of ways,
basing their decisions on what had come before,
imitating what other people had done and
making their best guesses 
on what should come next.
They started this church by
trusting their instincts, their reason, 
their corporate wisdom,
and embracing their desire to see it through,
which in the language of the church means trusting the Holy Spirit,

And we thank them all for facing that unknown future
for us and getting us to where we are today.
Gathering people together to worship God and work together
was an unpredictable proposition 70 years ago,
and these days, things have been changing more than they have
in the last few hundred years. The landscape is changing almost
every day, most of all, the human landscape is changing:
People don’t behave the same way, people don’t value the same things,
and people don’t see or feel things
the same way as our parents or grandparents did. 
And a lot of those changes are really good,
but we as the church need to find a different way
a way of being the church, one that we’ve never done it before.

So, the truth is, we don’t know what we’re doing either.
But what they had 70 years ago, and what we have now is a vision.
Not a vision statement, although those are good,
not even a vision as in a clear  picture of where we want
to go although that could be helpful sometimes
but all of us share the same vision:
Christ was crucified, and Christ rose again.

Today is Transfiguration.
The day that we remember when Jesus and
the disciples go  up on the mountaintop and suddenly,
Jesus is changed, transfigured, his clothes are pure white,
he’s glowing with light. And he is talking
with two great figures of the faith, Elijah and Moses.
Some people call this a little vision of Easter
right in the middle of the gospels.

It is a testament and a promise to the three
lead disciples he brought with him up the mountain,
it told them that the glory of God was with them
in Jesus and that it would not be taken away.
After this point on the mountain top,
the disciples would go through a lot of things.
A lot of pain, anguish, mourning, sadness, and doubt.
And all through it, they would keep this vision with them,
it would tell them that what they were doing was not folly,
that they were following the way of the one true God
incarnate, God in the flesh.

We, the church, are the body of Christ,
When a group of random people gather together
and become a community following Christ’s ways
we too can be transfigured, changed into something more
than the sum of our parts,
With the love and power of God, the church can become --
like Jesus on that mountaintop – dazzling,
the visible bearers of the light of Christ to the world.

We have seen how through its 70 years,
this congregation we are a part of
has been a visible bearer of Christ’s light and brilliance.
How this church was transfigured from a small group of
nine people who basically didn’t want to drive downtown any more,
into a group of people who have cared, loved, worshipped,
forgiven, served, stood up for justice, and revealed God’s love.
It has happened, we’ve seen it.
And that vision and reassurance will keep us going too.

And now, in the years to come, Gethsemane
will surely see hard times, we will face difficult decisions,
pain, sadness, loss, conflict, and a lack of direction.
It will be painfully obvious at times
that we do not know what we are doing.
It happens to every church and organization.

But Christ has died and Christ is risen.
And that vision of a scattered people
transfigured into Christ’s body on earth,
shining brightly and bringing Christ light to the world,
will keep us going for the next 70 years.

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